Workers’ Compensation: Pre-existing Conditions
Few of us go through life without having a few bumps and bruises along the way. Oftentimes, these scrapes leave workers with permanent injuries or conditions that could predispose them to a subsequent workplace injury, which unscrupulous workers’ compensation insurers may use to deny a properly accepted workers’ compensation claim.
Fortunately, Nevada has adopted laws to govern when a work injury that compounds a preexisting condition should be properly accepted as a workers’ compensation claim.
What Is a Pre-Existing Condition?
A pre-existing condition is an injury or illness that has existed prior to a workplace injury. These conditions can include physical injuries, medical conditions, disabilities, and mental health issues.
Conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), depression, anxiety, spinal stenosis and other degenerative conditions of the spine are common examples of pre-existing conditions that could affect a workers’ compensation claim.
Under Nevada statute 616C.175, every on-the-job injury that arises out of and in the course of employment must be accepted as a work injury if it aggravates, precipitates or accelerates a preexisting condition unless the insurer is able to prove that the work injury was not a substantial contributing cause of the resulting condition.
This means that, regardless of how severe the preexisting condition, if the work injury worked together with that preexisting condition to leave an injured worker with a worsened condition, it should be accepted under Nevada’s workers’ compensation laws.
Examples of Pre-Existing Conditions
If you’re a worker in Nevada, it’s crucial to know the types of pre-existing conditions that could impact your eligibility for worker’s compensation benefits.
- Back injuries or spinal cord injuries
- Repetitive motion injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome
- Occupational diseases such as asbestosis or mesothelioma
- Psychological conditions such as depression or anxiety caused by work-related stress.
How Do Pre-Existing Conditions Affect My Workers’ Compensation Claim?
While a preexisting condition should not be grounds for claim denial, it may be the basis for potential limitation of medical care or apportionment of a Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) rating. This means that when the case settles, the ultimate settlement may be reduced based on scope and severity of a preexisting condition.
It is important for workers to be familiar with the Nevada statute governing their rights in regards to preexisting conditions. The law provides protections for those who are suffering from a pre-existing condition and whose work injury exacerbates that condition.
If an injured worker believes they have been wrongly denied benefits due to a preexisting condition, they can appeal the decision or contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
Get More from Your Worker’s Comp Benefits
If you have a preexisting condition, it’s important to document any changes in your health or symptoms that you believe were caused by your work-related injury. Additionally, it is important to keep records of any medical treatments that you received for the preexisting condition prior to the accident and those following the accident.
Finally, if you are concerned about how a preexisting condition may affect your workers’ compensation claim, it is advisable to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. An attorney can help you understand your rights and ensure that you receive the full and fair benefits that you deserve.
To find out more about your rights under Nevada’s workers’ compensation law, call us today at (720) 570-0000 or fill out the form for a free consultation. It doesn’t cost anything to see if we can help.